Everything Gourmet

Moments in Time: Antiquity Time in Absolute Art and Craft

The Great Sphinx of Tanis watch is outfitted with a dial in a blend of blue and black enamel set into a pink gold case. Photo courtesy Vacheron Constantin. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette ​

These are exceptional embodiments of art, design and craft. It’s all there. The great civilizations of Antiquity. The great arts and crafts professions. The Louvre and the fine watchmaking of Vacheron Constantin. In a miraculous display of craftsmanship four works from the Louvre representing four different ages from four different great civilizations have been represented on the watch dials.

The Lion of Darius watch is outfitted with a dial that was meticulously crafted in stone marquetry, a rare and difficult technique, and set in a pink gold case. Here 69 tiny pieces of turquoise and yellow Australian jasper form the marquetry. Photo courtesy Vacheron Constantin. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

These cultural symbols are rendered in raised sculpted gold. In these four watches — each brought out in a limited edition of just five pieces —you can look into the Persian Empire of Darius, the golden age of the Egyptian pharaohs, the Hellenistic period of ancient Greece and Augustus, the first emperor of Rome. Vacheron Constantin has partnered with the Louvre since 2019 with the museum’s teams working in strict collaboration with the designers and craftsmen at Vacheron Constantin who have embarked on the journey of conceiving new series of watches directly inspired from the emblematic masterpieces of the Louvre.

The Victory of Samothrace timepiece is outfitted with a dial in a very rare brown enamel set in a gray gold case. Photo courtesy Vacheron Constantin. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette ​

Some of the most difficult and rarest of the art and craft skills came together to create these incredible timepieces, enameling, stone marquetry, micro stone mosaic setting, and engraving. The Vacheron Constantin craft artists have seemingly by magic reproduced the Great Sphinx of Tanis, the Lion of Darius, the Victory of Samothrace and the bust of Augustus. The watches are outfitted with an in house 2460 G4/2 automatic winding movement whose hours, minutes and dates are displayed on four discs positioned on the edge of the dial leaving adequate room for the art and craft work. On the case back is a magnifient representation of the eastern facade of the Louvre.

The Emperor Augustus watch is outfitted with a dial of a blue-green enamel while its outer rim is ornamented with a micro mosaic of 660 stones: quartzite, Australian jasper, red jasper, red aventurine quartz, cacholong or common opal, dumortierite and grossular, a member of the garnet family. The timepiece is set in a gray gold case. Photo courtesy Vacheron Constantin. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette ​

Meanwhile the various arts and crafts used in the fashioning of the timepieces are directly inspired by the Louvre’s collections and are representative of the decorative arts of various eras: Roman mosaics, Egyptian coffin painting, bas-relief painted or sculpted Greek vases, Babylonian-inspired glazed brick friezes. Superimposed on these meticulous backdrops is the work in question in sculpted gold placed upon a glass sapphire upon which other historical elements are visible like an extract from the foundation charter of the palace of Darius, a transcription of the cartouche of the Pharaoh Merenptah engraved on the Sphinx of Tanis, a dedication to the ancient gods of Samothrace and an invocation to Emperor Augustus found on a Roman stone tablet discovered in Algeria. And all of this in the original languages: Cuneiform, Hieroglyphics, Ancient Greek and Latin.
©Trish Valicenti for The Gourmet Gazette

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